Sabata-Mpho Mokae, Brian Willan
Sol Plaatje’s Mhudi – History, Criticism, Celebration
Sol Plaatje’s Mhudi is one of South Africa’s most famous novels.
First published in 1930, it is the first full-length novel by a black South African writer, and is widely read and studied in South African schools, colleges and universities. It has been translated into a number of different languages. Written over 30 years before Chinua Achebe’s famous Things Fall Apart, Mhudi is a pioneering African novel too, anticipating many of the themes with which Achebe and other writers from the African continent were concerned.
Mhudi has had a complicated history. Critics have been divided in their views, and there was a delay of ten years between the time Plaatje wrote the book and when it was published. A century on from when it was written, the time is now right to both celebrate its composition and to assess its meanings and legacy.
In this book, a distinguished cast of contributors explore the circumstances in which Mhudi was both written and published, what the critics have made of it, why it remains so relevant today. Chapters look at the eponymous feminist heroine of the novel and what she symbolizes, the role of history and oral tradition, the contentious question of language, the linguistic and stylistic choices that Plaatje made. In keeping with Mhudi’s capacity to inspire, this book also includes a poem and short story, specially written in order to pay tribute to both the book and its author.